I have had a very relaxing two weeks for an unusual reason: my phone broke. It broke on Christmas Eve and with the holidays in full swing I wasn’t able to get it repaired – until today. But, to be honest, I didn’t miss it much. I used my old phone for calls and text messages but since the phone was so old I wasn’t able to use it for much else.
Some critical self-observations
This involuntary disconnection from the world came with an awesome sidenote: I had so much more time, for my family and for myself.
I admit, that I usually check my phone multiple times during the day. I check my emails, my facebook, my feeds, and all the other social media. Not being able to check it unless I was sitting at my computer made me realise how much I relied on my phone to function to distract me from what’s going on around me. I’m not just talking about the big time gaps of waiting for something somewhere but more the little moments at home.
My kids have long ago discovered that this little device is something special. They know that it controls the TV and the music. And, lately, my son knows that it shows the weather as well (and all my sweet-talking about looking out the window hasn’t helped yet). But they also know that it often means that they can’t talk to me when I look at my phone.
Not being able to stare at my phone (because there was nothing to stare at) made me realise how much I usually do. And I wonder why.
Escape from reality
The dark truth is that it’s become very hard to find anyone (and certainly anything) more interesting than one’s smartphone. This perplexing and troubling realisation has for most of us had huge consequences for our love stories, family lives, work, leisure time and health. There is almost no relationship in which the presence of the phone has not had a profound impact.
It goes on to describe a phone as an addiction, an escape from reality and a way of keeping our wandering thoughts at bay.
It’s not a very nice notion to think of a phone as a drug but with the inability to use mine for the past weeks, I tend to agree. I felt confronted with issues I usually try not to think about. Especially living far away from my family and friends at Christmas time was a reality I usually try to black out. But it was also the mundane stuff: shopping lists had to be handwritten again (or remembered), I had to listen to the radio in the car and not my personal music list, I couldn’t quickly look up a specific fact and I had to call shops to check if they had items in store. It felt like a different world.
What I’m taking with me
Now that my phone is back and in working order I could go back to the way things were. But, there are things I’m taking with me from the past two weeks:
1. I will work at NOT looking at my phone every single moment during the day because it won’t change things. My mailbox won’t fill up with emails in an instant and most of the message can be dealt with at one time during the day; Facebook won’t have more interesting news for me if I keep checking it every five minutes; the news will progress without me reading every single entry.
2. I will enjoy and pay attention to my environment. I often hear from parents of older children how much they miss the early days. Not looking at my phone will give me the time to enjoy my kids more now that they are younger. I also often don’t realise how lucky I am to live in a place of beauty. Australia has amazing (and not so amazing but still interesting) wildlife and we are lucky on live at the coast with beautiful beaches. I will spend more time enjoying the little things in my life, the things I take for granted. And I will spend more time outdoors.
3. I should not rely on my phone for every aspect in my life. This is probaly the biggest lesson from this exercise. Without a working phone I lost my music, my photos, my maps. Although I back-up regularly, my older phone wasn’t able to comprehend the amount of data I needed. And I realised that my life cannot (and should not) depend on a little gadget containing my life.